FootGolf, which combines the popular sports of soccer and golf, made its Northern California debut at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento with the California FootGolf Challenge on July 14, 2013.
Local players were invited to join enthusiasts from throughout California in a tournament where athletes use soccer balls on a traditional golf course with 21-inch diameter cups. The rules largely correspond to the rules of golf. The Haggin Oaks Foot Golf Course will entail 18 holes built within the front nine of the Arcade Creek GC at Haggin Oaks- designed to be able play both traditional golf and FootGolf simultaneously. FootGolf uses golf’s basic model including tee boxes, greens, bunkers, hazards and 18 holes of play. Scorecards display par scores for each hole as in regular golf. The sport is governed by the Federation for International FootGolf and has grown primarily internationally. The tournament at Haggin Oaks was only the second contested in California.
“We’re excited to bring this new sport to our golf course,” explained Mike Woods, head golf professional at Haggin Oaks. “It’s a perfect fit for our facility. Our 18-hole FootGolf course is incorporated into our Arcade Creek golf course and we expect FootGolfers to play in regular rotation with our current traditional golfers. Golf 2.0 and other growth of the game initiatives are at the forefront of what we do here at Morton Golf and we feel like we can introduce many to the game of golf first through FootGolf. As a former college soccer player and current golf professional, I am fascinated by the combination of the two sports. I am able to be outdoors playing an enjoyable game while getting a good deal of exercise. I think this sport is a winner.”
The sport is played in the traditional format of up to four players per group with FootGolfers either walking the course or using golf carts. Holes are roughly half the distance of a regular golf hole. While the soccer ball doesn’t travel as far in the air as a golf ball, it will roll much farther in the fairways.
“Haggin Oaks is the perfect location to introduce FootGolf,” says Laura Balestrini, President of the American FootGolf League . “Theirs is a service-first facility and we’re very enthusiastic about getting the sport off the ground in Northern California.”
37 days. That’s how long it took to do 1,000 extra rounds on our FootGolf Course at Haggin Oaks after it opened. When we mention FootGolf to most folks, we get that inquisitive head turn and look made so famous by the RCA dog logo so long ago. Made very popular in Europe, it’s essentially golf with a soccer ball- and with our Head Golf Professional a former collegiate soccer player, it made sense to test it out at our facility. We added 18 holes of “soccer golf” to the front nine of our Arcade Creek Golf Course. FootGolf players tee off from their own set of orange tees on the first tee box and have a small “office-size” green cut in the right rough up about 150 yards from there with an orange flag in the middle of a 28 inch cup. A second tee is right in front of that green and the FootGolf second green is about thirty yards to the right of our putting green on the first regulation golf hole. Par 4’s get two FootGolf holes. Par 5’s get three FootGolf holes. Par 3’s get one FootGolf holes. As a result, 18 holes of FootGolf are played within the 9-holes of regulation golf with a 72 par. Because balls aren’t hit out of play, it is nearly the same time to play both type of rounds on that front nine. As a result, regular golfers and FootGolfers can play in back-to-back foursomes and in some cases, some players have played regular golf and some have played FootGolf in the same foursome. The response has been nothing short of incredible. What’s more incredible is that our entire investment in what we called a “test” was only $2,000.
More than a year later, we’ve got between 25 and 75 FootGolfers playing the course each day. Amazingly, two of the hardest-to-connect-with demographics are the ones most taken with the course. The twenty-somethings are using social medias like Twitter and Instagram to get the word out and that college crowd is coming out in force. Even more remarkable is the response from the Hispanic population here in Sacramento. We’ve had two sold-out shotgun tournaments (remember it’s 144 players on nine holes of golf because of the 18 FootGolf holes) and over half of the field has been Spanish-speaking at each event. Having been connected with the Golf 2.0 initiative, we recognize the importance in this number as they’re faces and families that we have never seen before. Instead of growing rounds through stealing golfers from other facilities, we’ve found a completely new audience to bring to our facility. They’re using our restaurant, renting our power carts and buying from our on-course beverage attendants. Already, we have plans for league play and have several FootGolf tournaments on the books. A handful have plans for 9-holes of regular golf and 18-holes of FootGolf on the same day, with winners having to mix their two scores. Recreation youth soccer leagues are just getting under way and we’ve had dozens of teams out using the course as a way to better their foot skills. The next step will be luring this audience to testing out the traditional game of golf and creating new golfers from this initiative. Projected annual revenues at Haggin Oaks from these rounds project to be in the $200-$300,000 range annually.